If you follow different landscape photographers, you’ve probably heard them give pieces of advice that are completely opposed to each other. Truth to be told, photography is full of contradictions, and they may leave you utterly confused. What to do? Whose advice to take? In this interesting video, Adam Karnacz of First Man Photography goes through nine of the most common landscape photography contradictions. And hopefully, his thoughts will make you less confused and ultimately more creative.
Looking at other people’s landscape photos, you may think that one needs to travel in order to shoot stunning landscapes. Well, this isn’t necessarily true. You can shoot locally to hone your craft. If you live a walk or a short drive away from nice locations, you can visit them and take some photos. After all, your photos can show your connection to these places that occasional travelers don’t have.
On the other hand, although you don’t need to travel, you’ll get great photos if you do. So if you get a chance, it’s great to visit new places and take some photos of them. But if the money is tight or you don’t have enough time – use what you have in your environment. I already wrote about it, and I often visit my “local landscape” when I feel like relaxing and taking photos. It keeps me satisfied until I visit someplace new. :)
Some landscape photographers will tell you that a tripod is a must, and the others will tell you that they don’t ever use one and that you don’t need it. Who to trust? Well, I’d say both. There are definitely times when you need a tripod (just think of long exposure photos). Also, as Adam points out, using a tripod helps you to slow down a bit and think your composition through.
On the other hand, you might miss opportunities if your camera is set on a tripod. It all depends on the situation. If you prefer handholding the camera, just make sure to use a fast shutter speed so you don’t get blurry shots.
Personally, I use a tripod for outdoor daylight shots once in a blue moon. But it all comes down to your preferences and the shooting situation, so there is no right or wrong answer here.
Just like tripods, filters are also often a subject of discussion. Some photographers swear by them, while others prefer doing everything in post. Once again, it’s all about your habits and preferences. I like getting as much right as I can in-camera. However, I hate fiddling with filters, so if I really need to fix something, I’ll do it in post. Once again, there’s no straight answer, so just do what you prefer. Keep in mind though that you can’t mimic a polarizing filter in post.
4. The golden hour
Lots of landscape photographers will shoot during the golden hour, which definitely is a great time to take photos. But is it the best one? Well, you can shoot at any other time of the day and make the best of the light and the weather conditions. After all, some scenes actually work better on overcast or foggy days. So, if you can’t catch the golden hour for whatever reason, work with what you’ve got. It doesn’t mean by any means that your photos will be less beautiful.
5. The car
I personally haven’t encountered this debate, but Adam has. He says that some photographers will tell you that you need to stay near the car when traveling and taking landscape photos. Others, however, will suggest that you go far from the car and go explore the landscape. I’d say this is a matter of preference and that it definitely doesn’t matter. It all depends on whether you want to have a bit more of an adventure and physical activity with your shoot or you want to have more of a road trip. There’s no right or wrong answer, so just do what you prefer. And make sure to be safe and legal, of course.
Probably 90% of all the photos you see online are post-processed. It’s great to get it right in-camera and it will save you some time in post, but enhancing the image is just fine. Once again, it all depends on what you want to depict. However, I personally don’t know a photographer who doesn’t edit their photos.
7. The ideal weather
Similar to the golden hour, some photographers prefer shooting only when it’s sunny, and others will go out in any weather. I stand with the latter group. After all, you can’t control the weather, so you should get used to shooting in all conditions. Embrace them, and make the best of them.
8. The perfect camera
The oldest discussion ever: gear matters vs. gear doesn’t matter. You may think that you must own a fancy camera to get splendid landscape shots. Well, it’s not essential, but you’re right up to a point. On the one hand, you can get stunning images even with your phone. So if you don’t have an expensive camera, don’t let it stop you from shooting.
On the other hand, there is some difference in sharpness and the level of detail between a professional DSRL/mirrorless camera and a compact camera/smartphone. If you want to make large prints for sale, then a high-resolution camera will be a much better choice.
9. Controlling the weather
Remember how I said we can’t control the weather. Well, is that entirely true? Adam says that, in a way, you can control the weather. This refers to shooting locally and repeatedly going to the same place close to your home. If you go to the same place multiple times, you can choose the weather and the time of day that will make the scene look just as you want to capture it. So, I guess that you can control the weather in a way… at least in your images.
What are some confusing contradictory tips you’ve heard over the years? Feel free to share them in the comments.
[Confusing Landscape Photography Contradictions | First Man Photography]